Let's be fair - conservative news coverage is outlandish in direct proportion to conservative pet theories being debunked. The basic problem is banks did all the risky shit that conservatives promised banks wouldn't do; you can expect conservative explanations for the problem to prominently feature woke vaxed drag queens teaching CRT.
That's not what this editorial does, though.
This was mistake No. 1. SVB reached for yield, just as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers did in the 2000s. With few loans, these investments were the bank’s profit center. SVB got caught with its pants down as interest rates went up.
1) The bank acted risky and ate shit. That's pretty fuckin' frank for an editorial from a Murdoch property.
The bear market started in January 2022, 14 months ago. Surely it shouldn’t have taken more than a year for management at SVB to figure out that credit would tighten and the IPO market would dry up. Or that companies would need to spend money on salaries and cloud services. Nope, and that was mistake No. 2. SVB misread its customers’ cash needs. Risk management seemed to be an afterthought. The bank didn’t even have a chief risk officer for eight months last year. CEO Greg Becker sat on the risk committee.
2) They should have seen it coming. They probably did, but they're a publicly-traded firm and frankly, if Peter Thiel had pulled all his money last February and said "this bank isn't willing to take risks" they would have eaten shit last February.
Mistake No. 3 was not quickly selling equity to cover losses. The first rule of survival is to keep selling equity until investors or depositors no longer fear bankruptcy. Private-equity firm General Atlantic apparently made an offer to buy $500 million of the bank’s common stock. Friday morning, I’d have offered $3 billion for half the company. Where was Warren Buffett? Or JPMorgan?
3) They didn't commit suicide fast enough. I mean... yeah? But if you look at the bullshit pile-on there weren't a lot of options. Half the vulture capitalists in the valley were busy causing a run on the bank so they could buy its stock cheap. "Fast enough" in this case appears to have been "sell everything in less than 12 hours" which is AIG-grade catastro-dumping and AIG had the advantage of announcing to the world that there was a problem by unloading everything as fast as humanly possible. It didn't work for AIG either.
Why did so many startups bank with SVB in the first place? Here’s a hint. Apparently, more than half of SVB’s loans went to venture and private-equity firms backed by the borrower’s limited-partner commitments, a legal but slippery way to goose venture funds’ all-important internal rate of return metric, IRR, by investing three to six months before calling investors for cash. VCs are very persuasive with startups.
4) It's all rotten anyway and expecting rotten shit to not smell is dumb.
Was there regulatory failure? Perhaps. SVB was regulated like a bank but looked more like a money-market fund. Then there’s this: In its proxy statement, SVB notes that besides 91% of their board being independent and 45% women, they also have “1 Black,” “1 LGBTQ+” and “2 Veterans.” I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.
5) (waves hands) "something something DEI"
Management screwed up interest rates, underestimated customer withdrawals, hired the wrong people, and failed to sell equity. You’re really only allowed one mistake; more proved fatal. Was management hubristic, delusional or incompetent? Sometimes there’s no difference.
Last paragraph summarizes (1), (2), (3) and (4). Is there maybe a passing reference to (5)? If you squint? But this is the WSJ and "say something about how they went tits up for being woke or else we'll get yelled at for not mentioning the wokeness" was probably a part of the editorial process on this piece. Bloomberg, meanwhile, is pointing fingers directly at Peter Thiel so yeah, it's annoying that they had to throw "LGBTQ+" in there but on balance, this piece is much more about "they deserved it for sucking" than "they deserved it for being woke pieces of shit." That's about as Lawful Good as the WSJ gets.